Circumventing Customs Offices
One of the drawbacks of player owned customs offices is that they often change hands, or that the current owners try to milk everyone for everything they are worth. I had a case like that lately, where the tax was at 20% despite having the Customs Code Expertise skill at V.
I am fine with reasonable taxes, after all maintaining (defending) a customs office is worth something. In this case however, I began looking for alternatives. Dialogue with the customs office owner lead nowhere, as they were a highsec griefer corp who had simply found another way to, well, grief anyone willing to fall into their trap.
I was not going to pay those prices, but I needed an alternative until their spot could be vacated and replaced with someone more reasonable. I did not want to move planets because of them either. I knew that you can use the command center to make launches, so I had a look at that again.
To use the command center you have to link it to your storage, and make an expedited transfer of the things you want to launch. The good news is that you only pay the NPC launch tax then. The bad news is that the command center has only 500 m3 cargo capacity, so launching your products will take a few launches.
Let’s take my planet making Enriched Uranium as example: it produces around 1600 units per week, and the command center can hold 333 units. That’s 5 launches, which isn’t too bad! However, the expedited transfer to the command center had a really high cooldown, with over 20 minutes. That’s almost 2 hours to launch everything, so not really a good solution.
A few searches later, I learned that you have to upgrade the link to the command center to reduce the cooldown (explanation). I was able to reduce the cooldown to 5 minutes, which makes this a viable solution. If you do your launches while restarting the extraction on your colony, it will not be that much of a bother.
While it is far from ideal and does not work for all use cases, it is a great way to circumvent high taxes. For high-end products it may even be a better solution than the launchpad, where the volumes are much smaller to begin with.